Jason Reynolds of Newton had a long week, though he knows his troubles pale in comparison to those he was with in Texas.
“The depth of the water, and the amount of destruction was surprising,” Reynolds told The Kansan. “All of their possessions were destroyed. Their possessions are just piled up all down the street; that was shocking to see. I met with folks that had very serious damage in their home. People are tired. … It will be a long-term recovery for those hard hit areas. It will be years.”
When his church, the Four Square Church, called, the member of the Harvey County Sheriff’s Community Chaplain Response Team answered. He went for what he thought would be three or four days to help with the response to Hurricane Harvey.
That assignment, which started at new offices in San Antonio and ended on the ground in Houston, lasted more than a week.
“We connected with our partners down there to make sure that the churches we have in the area — we had four in the community that were affected were able to get what they need,” Reynolds said. “Some of our churches opened shelters and some opened distribution centers. The floods were devastating down there.”
Hurricane Harvey was the first major hurricane to make landfall in the United States since 2005, ending a record 12-year drought in which no hurricanes made landfall at such an intensity in the country. In a four-day stretch, many areas received more than 40 inches of rain as the storm moved over eastern Texas and adjacent waters, causing catastrophic flooding. With peak accumulations of 51.88 inches of rain, Harvey is the wettest tropical hurricane on record in the contiguous United States. The resulting floods inundated hundreds of thousands of homes, displaced more than 30,000 people and prompted more than 17,000 rescues.
The churches Reynolds works with responded by offering shelter and as distribution centers for supplies. They also served meals — thousands of them.
“It has been pretty amazing seeing the larger organization get people the help they need. Things ran fairly smoothly. For an area that big, and a disaster that big … things seem to run fairly smoothly,” Reynolds said. “The churches are doing some great work.”